Bullfrog versus Hydropool: An Unbiased Swim Spa Comparison
Bullfrog and Hydropool are two prominent brands in the swim spa market, and if you’re shopping for a pool replacement or just want a place to swim, then chances are it’s only a matter of time before you come across each brand.
Hydropool is based in Mississauga, Ontario, near Toronto, and has been in business for 40 years, becoming one of the first brands in Canada to build and sell swim spas, first locally and then around the world. Bullfrog is a relative newcomer to the swim spa market, starting out in Utah in 1997, but made quite an impact on the hot tub scene with innovative ideas such as the ability for hot tub owners to move jets easily from seat to seat with what it calls JetPak technology. Bullfrog is again a newcomer to the swim spa lineup, offering them as of 2022, according to this article in SpaRetailer.
It might seem odd for us to be writing about a competitor and complimenting them on their technology, and we understand that. We know Bullfrog makes innovative hot tubs and so do we (you can read about them here). We have continually developed our own hot tubs and swim spas for the 40 years we have been in business, so we respect Bullfrog’s approach to trying out new things.
How do the swim spas compare? In this article we will look at the following comparisons between Hydropool and Bullfrog:
- What’s the swim spa lineup of each brand?
- Which swim spa looks best?
- Which swim spa is easier to maintain?
- Which swim spa is less expensive?
- Which swim spa massage is best?
- Which swim spa is more efficient?
We know we will always have competition, and while we hope everyone would find a swim spa in our lineup, we also know people will shop around. So we wrote this article to give the best, more fair sense of what Bullfrog has to offer compared to what Hydropool does. Everything in this article was sourced as best as we could at the time we published it, and if we couldn’t find information out, we have said that too.
Bullfrog versus Hydropool: A swim spa model by model comparison
As it is relatively new to selling swim spas, it is perhaps not surprising that Bullfrog’s lineup features two models, the 13-footlong Bullfrog S150 and the S200, which is 17 feet.
- The best comparison for the Bullfrog S150 would be Hydropool’s AquaPlay, which is 13 feet long, or the Aquatic Sport, which starts at 14 feet.
- The Hydropool Aquatic Sport also comes in a 17-foot model, as does the AquaTrainer. Both can be compared to the S200.
Hydropool also has its elite swimming series, which is the Executive line. We wouldn’t compare anything Bullfrog has to that line, but we will get into that in more depth a little later in the article.
Read about Hydropool’s full line of swim spas here.
Bullfrog versus Hydropool: Which swim spa looks better?
Looks are always subjective and our goal here is to explain the differences in approach to swim spa design.
- The Bullfrog models have the same stylish interior that its hot tubs have. The JetPak technology looks modern and impressive in the water, especially when lit with the standard lighting package.
- The color offerings are white acrylic and light brown exterior.
- The exterior features cut corners, which was a more common look in the 1990s but is increasingly rare to find these days, with most companies adopting a rounded corner. We don’t see any lighting on the outside corners, which some companies offer.
Hydropool has a different approach to swim spa design, being built to blend into most backyards as much as possible, rather than stand out. Hydropool’s approach to swim spa aesthetics and design is to feature classic exterior elements and rounded, comfortable corners inside the acrylic of any swim spa.
- Hydropool’s swim spa approach is classic, with soft, comfortable curves in the acrylic shell all around the swim spa in the Aquatic Play and AquaSport lines.
- While the AquaPlay 13FFP comes in silver marble and driftwood grey, both sizes of the AquaSport offer three neutral colors for the acrylic and two exterior options to choose from in a grey/brown and a black.
- Lighting cues, such as lighting on the outside corners, are there as touches to enhance the look of your swim spa at night. An optional Northern Lights package offers you the choice of a multi-color display in your spa’s water, as well as illuminating the top-mounted control valves.
If looks matter to you, and they do to most, we’d encourage you to see the swim spas in person, so you can make the final decision.
Bullfrog versus Hydropool: Which swim spa provides a better swim?
True to form, Bullfrog has made several unique decisions with its swim spas. Same with Hydropool. This is a comparison of two companies that both value quality engineering, just in different ways.
- Bullfrog incorporates a lounger seat, which allows you to lie down, and significant bench seating into its swim spa area with both spas. From what we have found, the lounger in particular is unique in the industry. The swim area of the Bullfrog S150 is surrounded by seats, and holds 13, while the 17-foot S200 has seating for nine. What does this have to do with swimming? We note this because the more seats you have in a swim spa, the smaller the swim area is, and the increased chance that you will kick a chair or smack it with your hand while swimming.
- The jet formation is unique as the jets are stacked on top of each other. From the Bullfrog website: “The unique orientation of swim jets, one near the surface and one angled up from a bit deeper, creates a current shape that helps keep body and legs horizontal and your whole body in your swim lane for easier use and more effective workouts.” From what we can tell then, one is creating a current to swim in, and the second is acting as a buoyancy jet, keeping the swimmer in place.
- Jets are lit to help you in stay in the swim lane, in between the seats of the swim area, with air injection to increase pressure.
- Swim takes are straight lines, without any hips, so the water is pushed directly down the spa.
The design of all of Hydropool’s swim spas are to ensure you have enough space to use the swim spa as a pool replacement and have room to swim or workout as you like. They are oriented toward fitness and workouts as opposed to optimal seating and with swim currents designed to minimize turbulence and maximize a wide, strong current.
- Hydropool doesn’t have a lounger seat because we have found that it takes up a large portion of the swim area, which we have found can become an issue if you have considerable seating in your swim spa. The AquaPlay seats nine, while the AquaSport seats five.
- Our swim jets are not stacked, but sit beside each other to create a wide, strong current so that you’re able to move around in the swimming area while swimming and not be confined one set swim lane. The AquaTrainer adds more pumps and exclusive V-Twin jets for elite-level swimming.
- Water naturally spins in pipes, and to counter that Hydropool uses oval jet openings instead of round and puts a cheese grater like grid in front of the jet, to spread the water and “shred the vortex” – neutralizing the spinning effect, which creates surface commotion and flattening the current so you’re better able to swim in it. Hydropool doesn’t use air injection because we find it creates froth in the water, which can be hard to swim in.
- The shell design on the AquaSport and AquaTrainer includes hips, curving out into the water. This is because a reflective wave gets created when the current hits the far way of the hot tub. That wave needs to be controlled somehow. In this case, the wave comes back and hits the hips of the swim spa, before curling into the intakes, to get recycled into the jets again. The end result is the current creates a flatter, wider and more predictable swim.
Lastly, Bullfrog controls their swimming speed in a manner similar to Jacuzzi – with a manifold directing water under the swim spa. The company’s hot tubs work with a similar method. A manifold takes the water from one pipe and spreads it to many outlets, so you have fewer pipes overall. By opening and closing elements of the manifold, you can control the power of the jet.
Hydropool plumbs directly into the jet. That leads to more pipes underneath your swim spa, but a strong blast from each one, because they are linked directly. Again, this is designed for a flatter, more powerful swim. The power of the jet is controlled at the jet itself on the AquaPlay and AquaSport lines.
We didn’t compare the Executive Sport or Trainer collections to either Bullfrog series because they are units designed specifically to create the largest possible tank for swimming in, and have also been designed for elite swimming capabilities, which isn’t a fair comparison for Bullfrog. For example, those models do away with hips inside the shell for even more room, but add a Current Collector at one end, which ultimately creates a conveyor-like current in the water. These swim spas are designed to generate the most powerful swim possible and are made so that anyone from beginners to elite athletes can use them.
For an article that completely explains the Executive series, click here.
Bullfrog versus Hydropool: Which swim spa is easier to maintain?
The main difference here is that Hydropool offers a unique form of filtration, in a self-cleaning system based on how commercial pools are built.
- Commercial or public pools are regulated far more vigorously than swim spas, and Hydropool matches that level with its swim spas.
- Hydropool also offers ozone and UV sanitization on the Aqua Sports and Trainers (ozone and UV are options on the AquaPlay FFP). These work together to cut down on chemical usage.
Bullfrog counters with the industry’s only flat filter, which removes particles from the water, and ozone as an option to help deal with bacteria.
- Again, Bullfrog’s engineering shows with what they do employ, as their use of ozone is unique in the industry, with mixes the water and ozone together and expels any off-gas created entirely out of the swim spa.
Bullfrog versus Hydropool: Which swim spa has better construction?
Bullfrog is again unique to the marketplace in that it has built its frame out of ABS. Hydropool uses steel and doesn’t use ABS because of concerns about how warm swim spas can get within the walls of the cabinet. We have found that ABS, under significant heat, can warp the same way wood does, while we have found steel holds its shape better. ABS is terrific for longevity, unlike wood, so it has an advantage there for sure.
Bullfrog uses a full foam system for insulation, while Hydropool uses a combined thermal blanket and full foam system, that allows you access to the ends of the swim spa while still providing sufficient insulation (for more on how insulation works in a swim spa, click here).
Bullfrog of Hydropool: Which swim spa is better at massage?
Each company takes its own spin here again, with both companies putting a priority in this area:
- Bullfrog features JetPaks, which are moveable around the jetted seats. Because the system runs on a manifold, the area closest to the manifold will get the most power, and then subsequently less around the seats.
- Hydropool has a full-body massage wellness program called Zone Therapy, which sees you moving from seat to seat to ensure your whole body gets a proper massage.
Bullfrog also has some unique features not covered elsewhere: it offers a hammock, which acts like a floaty, but without the movement. It has in-spa surround sound, and for younger children, Bullfrog also includes a splash zone play area, which doubles as a step into the hot tub.
Bullfrog versus Hydropool: Which swim spa is better on price?
From what we could tell at the time of this writing, Bullfrog doesn’t publish its pricing online. But as an illustration, what we believe is that the S150 is more expensive than the AquaPlay and AquaSport, but less than the AquaTrainer.
So we believe the two companies are comparably priced for the most part. Bullfrog has lighting and a stereo included, and Hydropool has those as options, while Hydropool offers more swim technology and Bullfrog offers more seating … there are many differences between the two companies and how they each got to the price.
Bullfrog and Hydropool: Which is the best swim spa brand?
Bullfrog and Hydropool are both companies that love engineering great products but do so with a completely different emphasis. You can see that as you go point by point through each section, as the differences between the models are considerable, almost at every turn.
- Bullfrog has created a swim spa that works in a variety of athletic and relaxing situations, with a lot of seats, that allows for swimming.
- Hydropool has created swim spaces that work for just as many situations, with fewer seats, with swim spas that have a strong focus on the swimming experience.
There are other differences between the two brands covered in this article, of course, and any of them may stand out to you as important enough to guide your decision on which swim spa you’d choose. That’s why we wrote it, so you could see for yourself which was the right swim spa for you to consider.
It’s entirely likely you have more questions about the swim spas, and if so, there’s no better place than our Learning Centre, or if you’re looking to speak to someone, reach out to your closest Hydropool dealer.